Posts Tagged ‘Catalonia’

Police up security in Catalonia as more protests loom

April 4, 2018


© AFP/File | Authorities say security will be increased in Catalonia, particularly in front of government buildings and European institutions
BARCELONA (AFP) – Police upped security Wednesday in front of government buildings in Catalonia and provided special protection for several political leaders, judges and prosecutors as further pro-independence protests loom, authorities said.Separatist activists have in the past weeks taken advantage of the void left by a renewed crackdown on the restive region’s independence movement to step up their protests by blocking roads and clashing with police, raising fears of radicalisation.

“From today (Wednesday) we are implementing a new plan to guarantee security and public order with regards to the various scenarios that could take place in Catalonia,” a spokeswoman for the Mossos d’Esquadra, Catalonia’s police force, told AFP, without giving further details.

Enric Millo, the central government’s representative in Catalonia, added that “security measures have been increased for people and public equipment that have been targeted by protests, graffiti or assaults recently”.

The central government’s representative office said security would be upped particularly in front of its buildings in Catalonia, as well as European institutions.

Several political leaders, judges and prosecutors will also be given special protection, it added, without saying who.

Judge Pablo Llarena of the Supreme Court, who is in charge of proceedings against separatist leaders, is already under protection after having received threats, the interior ministry has said.

Millo said these measures were implemented due to “an increase in belligerence” in the past weeks as separatists have protested against the jailing of more pro-independence leaders in Spain and the detention of former Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont in Germany.

Puigdemont faces extradition to Spain after a failed bid to secede last October that saw Madrid take Catalonia’s autonomy away and impose direct rule.

The protests were called by the Committees for the Defence of the Republic, groups of pro-independence activists spread out across the region.

In Barcelona, some protesters tried to occupy the central government’s representative office, heavily guarded by police, on several occasions at the end of March, leaving more than 100 people injured.

In a joint statement last week, these groups said “the Catalan spring” had “erupted,” in reference to a series of protests which began in Arab nations in 2011.


German lawyer says Berlin cannot extradite former Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont

March 29, 2018

A former German Supreme Court justice has been representing the ex-Catalan leader since his arrest. He says deporting Puigdemont would allow Spanish conflicts over Catalan independence to play out on German soil.

Carles Puigdemont

A lawyer for the embattled ex-president of Catalonia called on German officials on Wednesday to publicly confirm that they will not extradite Carles Puigdemont to Spain. Attorney Wolfgang Schomburg told the Süddeutsche Zeitung daily that Germany must act “without delay.”

Otherwise, Schomburg said, Berlin risks “letting Spanish conflicts of interest be carried out on German soil.”

Read more: Catalan independence – What you need to know

The lawyer also pointed out that, in order to participate in Spain’s “request for judicial assistance,” it would have to be specifically approved by Justice Minister Katarina Barley.

And Schomburg isn’t just any defense lawyer. He is a one-time German Supreme Court justice, and the first German elected by the UN as a judge for the International Criminal Court, serving on tribunals of cases involving the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda.

Schomburg has been representing Puigdemont since he was arrested in northern Germany on Sunday as he was returning to Belgium from Finland. On Monday, German officials announced they won’t make a decision about releasing the former president before the weekend. His supporters have blocked roads in Barcelona and called for mass demonstrations in protest of his detention.

Companions arrested

Puigdemont had been living in exile in Belgium since last October. He fled Catalonia after being charged with rebellion for declaring the region independent from Spain following a controversial independence referendum.

Earlier on Wednesday, three of the men who were accompanying Puigdemont from Finland were arrested in Spain for “sheltering a criminal.” Two of three are Catalan regional policemen.

A number of Puigdemont’s former ministers have also been jailed for inciting rebellion.

In a symbolic show of defiance to Madrid, Catalonia’s parliament voted on Wednesday to keep Puigdemont on as president, despite the fact that he cannot serve as he sits behind bars in Germany.

Catalonia separatist movement risks taking radical path

March 28, 2018


© AFP / by Daniel BOSQUE | Protesters scuffle with riot police at a demonstration in Barcelona Sunday as analysts say the pro-independence movement is at risk of becoming radicalised

BARCELONA (AFP) – Increasingly hardline Catalan separatists are taking advantage of the void left by the decapitation of the region’s independence movement to step up their protests by blocking roads and clashing with police, raising fears of radicalisation, analysts say.Spanish authorities have jailed nine Catalan separatist leaders and called for the extradition of six others who have fled abroad, including Catalonia’s former president Carles Puigdemont who was arrested Sunday in Germany.

This crackdown on the independence movement’s established leaders “generates incentives for the adoption of a hardline” by radical separatists, said Berta Barbet, politics professor at the Autonomous University of Barcelona.

“Since the conflict is increasingly more raw and social divisions are greater, the risk of radicalisation is ever more real,” she added.

But Barbet said she did not believe Spain will see a return to the armed violence that plagued the country when Basque separatist group ETA and Catalan nationalist group Terra Lliure were active.

ETA, accused of killing more than 800 people in a decades-long campaign of bombings and shootings to establish an independent Basque state, announced it was disarming in April 2017.

Terra Lliure, which disbanded in 1995, committed its only killing with a bomb attack in 1987.

– ‘Catalan spring’ –

After years of peaceful protests in Catalonia in favour of independence, demonstrations on Sunday against Puigdemont’s arrest led to clashes with police that left nearly 100 people injured.

Catalan police decked out in riot gear shoved and hit demonstrators with batons to keep the crowd from advancing on the office of the Madrid government’s representative in Barcelona.

Demonstrators set fire to recycling containers and threw glass bottles, cans, and eggs at police.

Despite appeals for calm from some separatist leaders, the protests called by the radical Committees for the Defence of the Republic (CDR) continued Tuesday with protesters blocking major motorways in the wealthy northeastern region of Spain.

“The Catalan spring has erupted,” the group said in a statement on Sunday, in a reference to a series of protests which began in Arab nations in 2011.

“We have crossed the point of no return… we will reappropriate the streets and stop the country,” the statement added in a call for a general strike in Catalonia like the ones held late last year when the region’s separatist crisis heated up.

During those strikes demonstrators blocked dozens of roads across Catalonia and forced the closure of key tourist spots such as Barcelona’s iconic Sagrada Familia church.

– Paralyse the state –

The legal action against Catalan separatists “is activating the social movement in the streets again, reinforcing it and making it more tense,” said Jordi Amat, the author of several essays on the independence movement.

The failure of Catalonia’s unilateral declaration of independence, which led Spain’s central government to take direct control of the region in October and launch the crackdown on separatist leaders, has caused the pro-independence movement to change strategy, he added.

Whereas before the goal was to “gain legitimacy internationally”, now “the only strategy they can use is destabilisation” of the Spanish state, Amat said.

This explains why Catalan separatist lawmakers, who regained their absolute majority in the Catalan parliament at snap polls in December, keep proposing candidates for regional president who are disqualified by their legal problems such as Puigdemont, he added.

“For many separatists, this destabilisation also should be taken to the streets… there is a will to paralyse the mechanics of the state,” Amat said.

– ‘Offside’ –

Catalonia’s two main separatist parties, the conservative PDeCAT and the leftist ERC, tried timidly to lower tensions at the end of last year while the smallest separatist party, the far-left CUP, has called for greater disobedience.

The conservative party is under pressure from its leader, Puigdemont, to take a tougher line against Spain while the ERC has been severely shaken up by the jailing of its leader, Oriol Junqueras, and the flight abroad of its number two, Marta Rovira.

“The leaders who could channel the movement have found themselves offside and this is a scenario that allows the CUP to promote its strategy,” said Amat.

The CRD organisers of demonstrations are aligned with the CUP party.

Barbet, however, believes that the threat posed by the courts may divert the separatists from a more radical path.

“Virtually everyone in power can end up with serious legal problems and many think twice before making a decision,” she said.

That’s why no separatist leader “clearly defends the option of a hard break (with Spain) and in this way it is very difficult for radicalisation to go very far,” she added.

by Daniel BOSQUE

Puigdemont to appear before German judge as protests erupt in Catalonia

March 26, 2018


© Lluis Gene, AFP | Protesters hold a yellow ribbon with a picture of Catalonia’s deposed leader Carles Puigdemont while waving Catalan pro-independence Estelada flags during a demonstration in Barcelona on March 25, 2018.

Text by FRANCE 24 

Latest update : 2018-03-26

Former Catalan president Carles Puigdemont is to appear in court Monday following his arrest in Germany which triggered a wave of protests in Catalonia where thousands of separatists faced off with police.

German police arrested Puigdemont on Sunday, after he crossed the border from Denmark, under a European warrant issued by Spain.

The arrest comes five months after Puigdemont went on the run as Spanish prosecutors sought to charge him with sedition and rebellion in the wake of a vote by the Catalan parliament to declare independence.

According to his lawyer Jaume Alonso-Cuevillas, he was on his way to Belgium, where he had initially fled after Spanish authorities moved to impose direct rule over Catalonia.

Puigdemont will be brought before a German judge on Monday to confirm his identity. A court will then decide if he is to remain in custody pending extradition proceedings.

Calling the situation “very delicate”, Alonso-Cuevillas told Catalonia’s Rac1 radio it was “very likely that he will not be allowed to leave Germany”.

Julian Assange @JulianAssange

In 1940 the elected president of Catalonia, Lluís Companys, was captured by the Gestapo, at the request of Spain, delivered to them and executed. Today, German police have arrested the elected president of Catalonia, Carles Puigdemont, at the request of Spain, to be extradited.

22:10 – 25 Mar 2018

Twitter Ads information and privacy

Clashes erupted as protesters took to the streets in Catalonia on Sunday following his arrest.

Catalan police decked out in riot gear shoved and hit demonstrators with batons to keep the crowd from advancing on the office of the Spanish government’s representative in Barcelona, the capital of the wealthy northeastern region.

Officers fired warning shots in the air to try to contain the demonstrators, who pushed large recycling containers towards police. Some people threw glass bottles, cans and eggs at police.

Some 90 people were slightly injured during the protests in Barcelona, including 22 police officers, emergency services said.

Another seven people were injured at a protest in Lleida, about 150 kilometres west of Barcelona and one person was injured in Tarragona to the south.

It is the latest chapter in a secession saga that has bitterly divided Catalans and triggered Spain’s worst political crisis in decades.

‘Not the end’

“It angers us that they arrested Puigdemont, he is our highest representative,” 22-year-old architecture student Judit Carapena told AFP at the protest.

Spain’s central government should not “sing victory because it is not the end of separatism, far from it”, she added.

Catalan parliament speaker Roger Torrent appealed for calm in an address broadcast on regional television.

“I have no doubt that Catalan society will act as it always has, with non-violence,” he said.

Aside from Puigdemont, nine other Catalan separatist leaders are in jail in Spain over the region’s failed bid for independence.

Puigdemont’s arrest comes two days after Spain’s supreme court issued international arrest warrants for 13 Catalan separatists including Puigdemont and his nominated successor Jordi Turull.

The court said they would be prosecuted for “rebellion”, a charge which carries a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison.

Twelve more face less serious charges like disobedience.

Issuing the warrant for Puigdemont on Friday, Judge Pablo Llarena accused the ousted Catalan leader of organising an independence referendum in October last year despite a ban from Madrid.

Puigdemont had been visiting Finland since Thursday, but slipped out of the Nordic country before Finnish police could detain him.

While separatist parties won Catalonia’s regional elections in December called by Madrid, they have been unable to elect a president and form a government as they have picked candidates who are now either in exile, in jail or facing prosecution.

After Puigdemont was forced to withdraw his bid for the presidency as he could not return to Spain without facing arrest, another pro-independence leader Jordi Sanchez followed suit when a judge refused to let him out of jail to be sworn in. The third candidate, Turull, was placed in custody on Friday.

Fresh regional elections will be triggered if a new leader is not elected by May 22.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)



Catalan separatists face reality check after leader Carles Puigdemont’s detention in Germany

March 26, 2018


Image may contain: 3 people, text and outdoor

 A pro-independence demonstrator holds a poster with of a photo of Carles Puigdemont, the deposed leader of Catalonia’s pro-independence party, during a protest in Barcelona, Spain, on Sunday. | AP

Carles Puigdemont’s removal from Catalonia’s political scene to a German jail forces the separatist movement to make a decision: keep bickering on the way ahead, or set aside differences and form a regional government.

The former Catalan president’s detention in Germany on Sunday was hailed by anti-separatist forces as a decisive blow against the push for Catalan independence. In a boost for Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, Puigdemont now exits the political stage, at least for now, and is unable to influence events in Barcelona.


Yet pending Puigdemont’s return to Spain, the risk is his detention will act as the catalyst needed to pressure sparring separatist camps into unity three months after regional elections.

“It’s time to build a common front to defend individual and collective rights and liberties,” Roger Torrent, the speaker of the Catalan parliament, said on Twitter in response to Puigdemont’s arrest.

Spain is struggling to move on from the events of late last year when the force of separatist sentiment in Catalonia ran into the rock of the central government in Madrid’s refusal to let Puigdemont’s attempt to split the region from Spain succeed. Protests on the streets of Barcelona on Sunday were a reminder that the wounds are far from healed.

“At first sight, it all looks such a mess,” said Caroline Gray, lecturer at Aston University in the U.K. who specializes in nationalist movements. “But the fact is that political life goes on and Catalonia still needs a government.”

Puigdemont was held by German highway police on Sunday near the Danish border after attending a weekend event in Finland. He has been living in exile in Brussels since October, when Rajoy used emergency powers to sack the Catalan president and disband his government after his attempt to declare a republic, an act in breach of Spain’s constitution.

While Madrid went about restoring Spain’s constitutional order in Catalonia, judges began a crackdown that culminated in a Supreme Court judge declaring on Friday that Puigdemont and other separatist leaders would face prosecution for rebellion.

It was another blow to the secessionist campaign that has been in limbo since separatist parties emerged with a narrow majority in December’s regional elections. With Puigdemont in self-exile and other leaders abroad or in jail, they have so far failed to form a government.

An attempt to elect as president Jordi Turull, the spokesman of Puigdemont’s former government, failed last week when the radical separatist party CUP abstained from voting for him. Turull was himself jailed on remand on Friday, forcing the Catalan parliament to abandon a second attempt to hold a vote to make him president.

Attention will now focus on how Catalan and Spanish political forces respond to Puigdemont’s detention, said Gray. One outcome could be the CUP deputies being forced to rethink their decision to abstain. Eyes will also be on the Catalunya en Comu platform linked to the anti-austerity party Podemos to see if they might support efforts to elect a government, she said.

Puigdemont’s detention is a “big hit” for the separatist movement because he has been central to its narrative in recent months, said Pablo Simon, a political science professor at Carlos III University in Madrid. Even so, it may also help to focus their energies on ensuring a new government is formed, he said.

To be sure, not everyone is convinced that Puigdemont’s detention changes things much.

“In the short term, it will lead to calls for the separatist movement to be more united,” said Antonio Barroso, a political risk analyst at Teneo Intelligence in London. “In the end though, the internal divisions are there and I don’t think they’re going to disappear.”

Catalonia’s deadlocked politics have implications across the Spanish political spectrum. The tough legal crackdown on separatism sits badly with the Basque nationalists whose votes Rajoy’s minority government needs to pass a budget and other important legislation. That friction may mean that a regional government in Catalonia ultimately helps Rajoy’s case with the Basques.

The Catalan crisis has meanwhile helped Ciudadanos, the pro-Spain force that won the most votes of any party in the regional elections, vault over Rajoy’s People’s Party to take the lead in national opinion polls. Its leader Albert Rivera celebrated Puigdemont’s detention Sunday in a tweet that said “the flight of the coup-monger is finished.”

Catalan separatists face charges as key figure flees abroad

March 23, 2018


© AFP | Separatists won an absolute majority of parliamentary seats in December but have so far failed to form a new government

BARCELONA (AFP) – Spain’s Supreme Court said Friday said it would prosecute 13 key Catalan separatists for “rebellion”, as Marta Rovira became the latest leading pro-independence figure to flee abroad to escape charges over the region’s breakaway bid.Among those prosecuted are Catalonia’s sacked president Carles Puigdemont and his designated successor, Jordi Turull.

If found guilty, they face up to 30 years in prison.

Judge Pablo Llarena accused Puigdemont — currently in self-imposed exile in Belgium — of organising the independence referendum in October last year despite a ban from Madrid and “grave risk of violent incidents”.

Turull, a former government spokesman, is already under investigation over Catalonia’s secession drive but so far remains free under bail. He was due to appear in court Friday along with several other leading separatists.

But one of them, Marta Rovira, ignored the summons and instead announced she was taking “the road to exile”.

Rovira is deputy leader of the leftwing separatist ERC party, whose chief is currently in jail.

She was placed under judicial control in February, but the judge stopped short of putting her behind bars for the duration of an ongoing probe into charges of rebellion, sedition and misuse of public funds.

In a statement released by her party, Rovira said she felt her “freedom of expression was being censored by the courts which intimidate and shamelessly apply political criteria”.

Rovira, who did not specify where she was headed, is the seventh separatist to flee abroad to escape charges.

Separatist parties won regional elections in December called by Madrid after they attempted to secede, retaining their absolute majority in parliament.

But they have still not been able to form a government as their two previous candidates for the presidency proved problematic.

As a result, Catalonia remains under direct rule from Madrid, imposed after the declaration.

The separatist parties failed to elect a new regional president on Thursday after their most radical faction refused to back Turull in a vote of confidence.

A second round parliamentary vote is due to take place on Saturday.

People Seeking The Safety of Strongly Enforced Human Rights Once Came To The EU — “Today there is not so much enthusiasm.” — “the EU is a fair-weather friend to human rights.”

March 23, 2018

How much does the EU care about human rights?

Human rights groups have criticized the European Union for failing to uphold its values while tackling the migrant crisis. Where are its red lines? Conflict Zone meets European Parliament Vice President Ioan Pascu.

 Image may contain: 1 person, suit and text

Watch video26:00

Ioan Pașcu on Conflict Zone

Populist success at the polls across Europe. Brexit. Disunity. The European Union continues to face serious problems on many issues, including its handling of the migrant crisis that began in 2015.

But despite its humanitarian rhetoric, the EU has come under fire for its interventions, most recently in Libya.

In December, Amnesty International published a damning report, criticizing EU member states for “actively supporting a sophisticated system of abuse and exploitation of refugees and migrants by the Libyan Coast Guard, detention authorities and smugglers in order to prevent people from crossing the Mediterranean.”

Is the European Union failing to live up to its founding values of “human dignity, freedom, equality and solidarity” that each of its members are bound by?

Red lines

This week on Conflict Zone, DW’s Tim Sebastian met European Parliament Vice President Ioan Pascu in Strasbourg and began by asking him why the EU spent so much time talking about human rights but did less to uphold them.

“It’s a question of values of a club,” Pascu told DW’s Sebastian. “They were posted at the entrance door, whoever wanted to become a member of the club would have to abide by them.”

Responding to the suggestion that member states were failing to abide by these rules, Pascu said: “I would agree with you that the attractiveness of the European Union has been affected by the crisis, by the conflicts around, and today there is not so much enthusiasm as there used to be in the late 90s, beginning of the 2000s.”

But Pascu dismissed that there was anything new in Greece’s decision in June 2017 to block EU criticism of China’s human rights record. China has a 51% stake in Greece’s largest port.

Philippinen - Präsident Rodrigo Duterte (picture alliance/ZUMAPRESS/R. Umali)The EU said its deal with the Philippines would “allow better collaboration … in political, economic and development issues”. Human Rights Watch has said that under President Rodrigo Duterte human rights in the Philippines is in crisis

Pascu disagreed too that the EU was failing to offer help beyond its own borders: “We see countries which up until now did not pay too much attention to the EU, being interested in relations with the EU, take India for instance, take Mexico for instance.”

But wasn’t this only driven by trade interests?

“Who is going to come only for values? Who is going to come only for that?” said Pascu, a former defense minister of Romania.

‘Not a great democrat’

On criticism of a recent agreement with the Philippines, Pascu questioned waiting for another leader: “Because they elected Duterte as president and Duterte is not a great democrat we should say, ‘no deals with you until you elect somebody else’?”

Human Rights Watch has saidPresident Rodrigo Duterte has “plunged the Philippines into its worst human rights crisis since the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos.”

“We do have to take into account much more than that. What if we don’t have such a treaty with Philippines tomorrow when they elect somebody else than Duterte?” said Pascu.

On the EU’s statements championing human rights, Pascu said: “It does not mean that the world revolves around only about one action or one leader, and then we have to give up everything else because that leader is not a democrat.”

Zitattafel - Conflict Zone: Ioan Pascu

So does it have limits in its dealings with other countries?

“We do have red lines … In February this parliament was very critical to the human rights records of Egypt.”

The European Parliament issued a statement in February condemning Egypt’s use of the death penalty.

In January, the former president of Estonia, Toomas Hendrik Ilves, said “the EU is a fair-weather friend to human rights: emphasizing them when there’s little risk, de-emphasizing them when interests come into play – often when it is in the interest of individual member states not to raise issues, primarily for commercial reasons […].”

Pascu, a European Parliament vice president since 2014, questioned this view as too generalized: “Not everything in the European Union is bad. Not everything in the European Union, equally, is not to be criticized. So that’s the way we move forward.”

Spanien Katalonien Unabhängigkeits-
Referendum Poilzei schreitet ein (picture-alliance/AP Photo/M. Fernandez)“This argument has been made by all the separatists [in Catalonia], that it was police brutality,” Ioan Pascu told Conflict Zone. Human Rights Watch said that Spanish police had used excessive force during Catalonia’s independence referendum

‘Violence can be provoked’

But if there are many matters of division within the Union, one moment of recent unity has arguably been its silence over Spain and Madrid’s response to Catalonia’s failed independence bid.

Human Rights Watch said the Spanish police had used excessive force as they tried to stop the referendum in Catalonia.

Pascu told DW’s Tim Sebastian: “I side with the [Spanish] government because the government has the responsibility to make their constitution respected by their citizens. If that happens in another country the same situation will happen. Why do you think that these separatists have not been supported in Europe?”

However, Pascu insisted that support for Spain was not about the country’s importance to the EU: “It’s the symbolism of it. If you let these things happen and go around, then you never have the member states existing in the European Union.”

And if there was more violence in Spain over an independence vote?

“Sometimes violence can be provoked. Sometimes it can,” said Pascu.

Pro-independence pick loses Catalan election

March 23, 2018
Jordi TurullThe Associated Press

FILE – In this Nov. 2, 2017 file photo, fired Catalan Cabinet member Jordi Turull, center, arrives with other former Cabinet members at the national court in Madrid, Spain. The Catalan Parliament speaker has set a Thursday March 22, 2018 vote in the afternoon to elect as the next regional president, a former separatist minister who could be indicted on rebellion charges only one day after. Speaker Roger Torrent made a hastily called appearance in the regional parliament to announce that Jordi Turull, the former chief of the Catalan Presidency, has the widest support to be voted in as the Spanish region’s next president. From left to right are former Cabinet members Raul Romeva, Carles Mundo, Jordi Turull, Meritxell Borras and Josep Rull. (AP Photo/Paul White, File)


The Latest on Catalonia’s bid to secede from Spain (all times local):

10:15 p.m.

The separatist majority in Catalonia’s parliament has failed to elect a regional president, starting a two-month countdown that could end with another regional election in the restive corner of Spain.

Candidate Jordi Turull fell short of the absolute majority needed to become the next Catalan president due to a division within the three parties who seek independence for the northeastern region.

An abstention from Thursday’s vote by the anti-capitalist CUP party left Turull with 64 votes when he needed 68.

The regional parliament now has two months to pick a president and form a government before a new election is re triggered.

Parliament rules say Turull could have a second chance to be elected on Saturday.

But the former minister in the previous government faces a court date on Friday that could end with his indictment on rebellion charges and preventative jail.


6:25 p.m.

Catalan presidential hopeful Jordi Turull says he wants to foster dialogue with Spain’s central authorities if he’s elected as the regional president. He didn’t specify what the dialogue would entail.

In a speech to fellow lawmakers, the pro-independence ex-minister outlined some of the social, economic and other measures he would implement if elected on Thursday.

There was no mention of “independence” or “republic” in the hour-long speech.

Turull is the third candidate proposed by parties that support Catalan independence. His bid appears because lawmakers of the anti-capitalist CUP party want a president who vows to realize the region’s secession.

He is also facing a possible indictment on rebellion and other charges.

He told the Catalan parliament: “I prefer to accept the risk of being a victim of injustice than to back away from what is happening.”


5:05 p.m.

Catalonia’s parliament is holding a session to elect as the Spanish region’s next president a former separatist minister who could be indicted on rebellion charges as early as Friday.

Jordi Turull is among the former Catalan officials facing possible rebellion charges over the regional assembly’s failed attempt last year to break away from Spain.

Supreme Court judge overseeing the investigation plans to issue indictments Friday. That could lead to Turull being imprisoned and, at a later stage, possibly banned from public office.

Turull also appears to lack the support he needs to be elected as Catalonia’s next president on Thursday. The radical-left separatist CUP party says its representatives won’t vote for Turull, leaving him short of an absolute majority in the regional chamber.

If Turull is not jailed by a judge on Friday, parliament rules would give him a second chance to be elected as the northeastern region’s leader on Saturday.


4 p.m.

Spain’s Supreme Court has rejected an appeal to release two Catalan independence leaders from pre-trial detention while a judge investigates Catalonia’s illegal attempt to secede from Spain last year.

The top court ruled that there is still risk for Joaquim Forn, the ousted Catalan Interior Minister, and Jordi Sanchez, the former president of the pro-independence civil rights group ANC, to repeat the offenses that landed them in jail.

Supreme Court Judge Pablo Llarena is set to issue indictments for Forn and other separatist politicians on Friday, in a probe looking into possible rebellion, sedition and embezzlement charges.

Llarena is investigating Sanchez in connection with the turbulent events last fall, and particularly whether the activist should be held accountable for allegedly orchestrating protests that hindered officials trying to stop a banned independence referendum.


11:50 a.m.

Spain’s government has rejected a plan by separatists in Catalonia’s regional parliament to elect prominent secessionist politician Jordi Turull as Catalan president.

The secretary of state for territorial administration, Roberto Bermudez de Castro, says Thursday’s vote in Barcelona is just another ploy in the region’s frustrated attempt to gain independence.

He told the Spanish Senate the government will oppose the election of any candidate who faces legal proceedings. Turull is among ex-officials facing possible rebellion charges over the regional parliament’s failed attempt last year to break away from Spain.

A Supreme Court judge overseeing the rebellion investigation plans to issue indictments Friday.

Turull is the third candidate proposed by pro-independence lawmakers since a December election. The central government is running Catalonia from Madrid.

Separatists mull appointing jailed leader as Catalan president — Carles Puigdemont is in self-exile in Belgium

February 27, 2018


© AFP/File | Catalan separatists have held frequent protests calling for freeom for “political prisoners”
MADRID (AFP) – Catalan separatist parties are considering appointing jailed civil society leader Jordi Sanchez as regional president as their negotiations to try and find a suitable candidate draw to a close, a lawmaker said.The parties — which form an absolute majority in the Catalan parliament — have been negotiating for weeks over who to pick as candidate for the regional presidency as Catalonia’s sacked leader Carles Puigdemont is in self-exile in Belgium.

Puigdemont wants to govern Catalonia remotely but Spain’s Constitutional Court has made his appointment conditional on his physical presence in regional capital Barcelona — and he faces arrest if he returns over his role in the attempt to break from Spain.

“A deal is imminent,” said Carles Campuzano of Puigdemont’s PdeCAT party on Spanish radio late on Monday, as Catalonia remains without a regional government and under Madrid’s direct rule following a failed declaration of independence on October 27.

Asked whether Sanchez, head of the ANC, a hugely influential pro-independence citizens’ group, was being considered as candidate for the Catalan presidency, he said: “This is an option that is being worked on.”

According to Spanish media, Puigdemont would take on a “symbolic” role from Belgium.

– Leading from jail? –

But choosing Sanchez, 53, is likely to cause further problems as he has been in prison for more than four months, charged with sedition over his role in the secession attempt.

He is accused of encouraging a major protest in September as Spanish police raided the Catalan administration’s economic offices in the run-up to a banned independence referendum.

The October bid to break from Spain prompted Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy to sack the region’s government, dissolve its parliament and call snap elections in December.

Sanchez, who was second on Puigdemont’s Together for Catalonia list in the polls, was elected as a regional lawmaker.

If he is chosen as candidate to lead Catalonia, it will be up to a Supreme Court judge to allow him out of jail to be officially appointed at a parliamentary session in Barcelona.

This in theory is possible, even if the judge previously refused such a request made by jailed, former Catalan vice president Oriol Junqueras.

And even if Sanchez was allowed to go to the session, he would then have to govern from jail and ask to be freed to attend other meetings.

Former Catalan MP to spurn Spain court summons in Switzerland

February 20, 2018


MADRID (Reuters) – A former member of Catalonia’s parliament who fled to Switzerland after Madrid blocked the region’s bid to separate from Spain says she will not attend a Spanish court summons over her alleged role in a declaration of independence last year.

Anna Gabriel, a member of the far-left Catalan party CUP, told the Swiss newspaper Le Temps that she planned to stay in Switzerland and would not travel to Madrid to face Supreme Court charges which include rebellion and sedition.

Image result for Anna Gabriel,, catalonia, photos

Anna Gabriel

“Since I will not have a fair trial at home, I have looked for a country that can protect my rights,” Gabriel told the newspaper in an interview published on Tuesday. CUP confirmed her comments.

She is due to appear before the Supreme Court on Wednesday.

No one at the court was available for comment on what the consequences might be if she failed to show up.

Several prominent members of the former Catalan government have been arrested and released on bail or are awaiting trial on remand after organizing an independence referendum Oct. 1 and later making a unilateral declaration of independence.

A court ruled that the attempt by the wealthy northeastern region to split from Spain was unconstitutional, prompting Madrid to dismiss the Catalan government and take control before calling a new regional election.

Former Catalan president Carles Puigdemont fled the country shortly after the independence declaration and remains in self-imposed exile in Brussels with four members of his previous cabinet. All face similar charges as Gabriel for their part in the independence push.

Three Catalan independence leaders — currently on remand after bail applications were denied — have lodged a complaint with the United Nations against their detention.

The Catalan independence drive has taken Spain to the brink of its worst political crisis since the transition to democracy in the mid-1970s and has prompted thousands of companies based in region to relocate to avoid potential fallout.

Following the regional election in December, pro-independence parties continued to hold a narrow majority in the Catalan parliament, though attempts to reinstate Puigdemont as head while residing abroad have failed.

The central government plans to remain in control of the region until parties can decide on a government.

Reporting by Paul Day and Raquel Castillo, additional reporting by Tom Miles in Switzerland, Editing by Angus MacSwan